Digital Tipping Point: Jon Maddog Hall, teacher, lecturer, consutant and keeper of stories about Free Software 03
This series of interview segments features Jon Maddog Hall. who has long been instrumental in guiding and promoting the development of Free Open Source Software, and in particular the operating system called GNU-Linux, sometimes called Linux for short. Among other things, Maddog secured the acquisition of hardware that allowed Linus Torvalds, the creator of the Linux kernel project, to move the Linux kernel project over to small computers, a move that has had immense ramifications for the global computing industry. For just one example, Google's massive server farm would not have been possible if Linus had not done that work, as it runs on hundreds of millions of "small" computers.
In segment 01 (Tape 105~007), Maddog introduces himself, and talks about his early experiences with Free Software. His first experience came from 1969, when he worked for DEC (Digital Equipment Corporation). He points out that even back then, software was freely shared. It just wasn't yet called "Free Software" because sharing software freely was normal. In fact, this story of how software was exchanged is really a back-to-the-future story, since Free Open Source Software will probably end up motivating people to make money now in ways similar to the methods that Maddog discusses in this interview! Back then, the money was not in the software; it was what you _did_ with the software! Such as selling computers (the money was in the computers) or providing services!
Maddog then goes on to tell the history of how companies like Microsoft came to start selling binary-only copies of the software, which, in 2004 (when this footage was shot) and 2008 (when this footage was loaded onto the Internet Archive's Digital Tipping Point Video Collection) was how most people acquire software. You go to the store and buy it, or, the software comes with the computer, and represents a large portion of the cost of the computer! In many cases now, the cost of the software exceeds the cost of the computer many times over. That is one of the things that Free Open Source Software is going to change. And Maddog Hall's interview helps place the whole process in historical context.
In segment 02 (Tape 105~008), Maddog says that Sun Microsystems also got into the business of selling binaries (as opposed to providing the source code along with machines), which was part of the reason that the business of offering the source code dried up. These changes are one of the reasons that Richard Stallman started the Free Software movement. Maddog then talks about his role in getting funding for Linus Torvalds' to come to the US to talk about his Linux kernel project. During this trip, Linus installed Linux off of a CD onto a computer. Maddog was impressed with his first interaction with Linux and Linus Torvalds. The rest continues on the next segment.
In segment 03 (Tape 105~009), Maddog talks about a riverboat trip he took with Linus, in which he suggested to Linus that he might want to consider putting Linux onto DEC's Alpha risc processor. This was May of 1994 with 4 GB disk drive and 96 MG of memory, which was an expensive machine back then, and many of DEC's engineers did not yet have a machine as good as this. But they had just gotten one machine back from a customer. (Coincidentally, at 2:33.587, the Brazilian official responsible for coordinating Linux efforts, Claudio Prado, comes and stands in the frame behind Maddog's left shoulder. He was probably there to talk with one of the conference organizers is my guess).
In segment 04, (Tape 106~001), Maddog finishes talking about how he got the DEC Alpha to Linus Torvalds. He gave the Alpha to Linus while Linus was at a conference in Boston. Linus took the machine back with him. It was a 64 bit machine. Maddog says this was the most interesting project he ever worked on in his 32 years of experience. He was amazed at how excited people were at contributing work to the Linux project. At the end of this segment, he talks about the work of David Mosberger-Tang, who has been responsible for moving Linux to hardware for Compaq (now a property of Hewlett Packard). You will need to listen to segments 04 and 05 back-to-back, because dvgrab split these two segments mid-sentence. (Lots of details omitted from my summary -- listen to the segment to hear more!)
In segment 05, (Tape 106~002), Maddog says that he was one of the first people to see the commercial and business side of Linux. He says that it will both save money and make money for companies. It had been so long that he had worked with Free Software, it took him a while to grasp the commercial power of GNU-Linux. He says that businesses and government should not fear Free Software. He says that lots of the older software developers are excited again about software, because software closed so gradually, no one noticed it. But now that Free Software is opening up software development again, the "gray beards" of software development are excited because it is a return to the way that it formerly was.
This footage was shot in a small storage room off of the main conference hall at the 2004 FISL Con 5 in Porto Alegre, Brazil. The lighting oscillates because the DTP crew did not know that we needed to vary our camera to match the frequency of the fluorescent lights in Brazil. Silly us! This footage is still useful, and in fact, the lighting variation, although potentially distracting, is also part of the charm of a low-budget project like the Digital Tipping Point! You will see people walking into the frame behind Maddog. Those people are staffers working at the conference. They are mostly coming into this storage room to get t-shirts to sell to people on the conference floor.
This footage is our raw rough-cut footage. It lacks transitions, music, special effectsor finish rendering. It is our "source code". Please feel free to rip, mix and burn this footage consistent with our Creative Commons license as disclosed on this page.
http://www.archive.org/details/e-dv105_pa_17_jon_maddog_hall_gnulinux_genesis_007.ogg (segment 01)
http://www.archive.org/details/e-dv105_pa_17_jon_maddog_hall_gnulinux_genesis_008.ogg (segment 02)
http://www.archive.org/details/e-dv105_pa_17_jon_maddog_hall_gnulinux_genesis_009.ogg (segment 03)
http://www.archive.org/details/e-dv106_pa_18_jon_maddog_hall_gnulinux_genesis_001.ogg (segment 04)
http://www.archive.org/details/e-dv106_pa_18_jon_maddog_hall_gnulinux_genesis_002.ogg (segment 05)
If you like this segment, please consider typing up a summary for it and emailing that summary to Christian Einfeldt at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your work will be credited and posted on this page.
The DTP will be many, many films created by the global open source video community about how open source is changing their lives. We, the DTP crew, are submitting this footage for anyone to rip, mix, and burn under the Creative Commons Attribute - ShareAlike license. We welcome edits, transcriptions, graphics, music, and animation contributions to the film. Please send a link for any contributions to Christian Einfeldt email@example.com.
Or, if you would like to contribute by directly transcribing this particular video segment, you can do so by going here:
and typing the audio as you hear it into the wiki. Please be sure to add the transcription for this segment under: Segment 009, Jon Maddog Hall
You can find other ways to contribute by going to our wiki front page here:
Thanks for viewing our video!
Please give attribution for this snip to DigitalTippingPoint.com
For credits for this segment and all segments for the DTP main film, please go to this website:
Uploaded by einfeldt on